Aroldis Chapman’s payday is falling…
Ever since Aroldis Chapman defected from Cuba, leaving behind his family, including a young daughter named Ashanti Brianna, his talent, that hard-throwing wherewithal, has been the central focus of the Chapman sweepstakes. However, after Chapman abruptly left Edwin Mejia and the API for more veteran pastures with the Hendricks brothers, concerns regarding the lefty’s maturity and makeup are beginning to overtake the Chapman conversation. In fact, according to the latest from Melissa Segura of Sports Illustrated, Peter Bjarkman, a Cuban baseball historian, referred to Chapman as “uncoachable,” while other Cuban ballplayers have characterized him as “temperamental and crazy.”
In addition to maturity and makeup concerns, scouts are even beginning to wonder about Chapman’s inherent talent — the 102 mph fastball — which was once the crux of his fervently hyped mythology. These doubts, of course, are particularly problematic for the Cuban-born pitcher; more so than the maturity and makeup issues, as these traits could certainly develop over time, with age. Fastball velocity is another story, though.
According to a source interviewed by Segura, Chapman’s fastball failed to “exceed 92 mph during a private workout last month,” which is probably why the young left-hander is now under lock and key, training in an undisclosed location. If Chapman doesn’t have the blazing fastball we heard so much about in Cuba, then he’s essentially a lost cause, for as one “high-ranking NL team official” featured in Segura’s article noted, his “secondary pitchers are just not that good.”
The diminished and alarming velocity — high heat is thought to be Chapman’s calling card — could be explained by Chapman’s lack of baseball activity since finishing his season with Holguin in the Cuban National Series. This level of inactivity, while a reassuring explanation with regards to one problem — a lack of velocity — is also under scrutiny from baseball executives who wonder why Chapman isn’t being showcased more often. “If he’s that good,” wonders one executive to Segura, “why aren’t you showing him off? Why not throw him in the Dominican Winter League and let him tear up the competition and drive up his price?” To baseball officials being told they must offer a considerable contract to Chapman, an international free agent, in order to obtain his services, the lack of private and public pitching displays, combined with general concerns regarding character and performance, could set off alarms and hurt Chapman’s market.
Segura touches on that point, as well, stating that “SI.com sources place at least one big-market club’s offer [for Chapman] at $12 million over three years.” With maturity, makeup and talent critiques becoming a more prevalent part of the Chapman sweepstakes, it seems as though the young pitcher’s star is beginning to fade precipitously. It will be interesting to see whether or not these concerns ultimately curtail Yankee interest in the prized Cuban. Then again, at $12M over three years — Kei Igawa money — the Yankees might just throw caution to the wind.
Photo via Busted Coverage